4 Chinese Warships Deployed Around Taiwan, Sources Say; Believed Ships Will Collaborate with Other Warships in East China Sea

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A Chinese Navy Jiangkai II-class missile frigate is seen in the East China Sea on Dec. 30, 2023.

Four Chinese warships have been constantly deployed around Taiwan, Japanese government sources said.

China is believed to be using the ships to exert military pressure on Taiwan. If China and Taiwan enter an armed conflict with each other, an envisaged situation known as a Taiwan contingency, China likely will aim to block U.S. and other forces by using the ships in conjunction with other warships nearby. These warships are continually being deployed near the border of China’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), which China has unilaterally declared over an area of the East China Sea.

In August 2022, China strongly responded against then U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and conducted large-scale military exercises around the island. Since then, four warships, mainly frigates, have been deployed on a steady basis.

Of the four warships, one has been deployed around Japan’s westernmost Yonaguni Island in Okinawa Prefecture, one between Yonaguni and the Philippines, one in the southwestern waters around Taiwan and one north of Taiwan. In addition, a warship is said to be continually deployed northwest of the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.

In the northeastern waters around the Senkakus, multiple Chinese warships are confirmed to be deployed at all times near the border of the Chinese ADIZ.

Chinese warships have been sailing around three sides of the Senkaku Islands. China has indicated that it will not hesitate to use force to unify Taiwan. Beijing also claims that the Senkakus are a part of Taiwan, so if China decides to invade Taiwan, a Senkaku contingency could happen concurrently.

China is strengthening its anti-access/ area denial (A2/AD) strategy, which restricts the military activities of other countries in its vicinity. The strategy aims to prevent U.S. forces from entering the first island chain that connects the Nansei Islands and the Philippines. The Chinese warships deployed near the ADIZ and around Taiwan are said to be almost in line with the island chain.

During the August 2022 military exercise, China fired ballistic missiles around Taiwan, some of which fell near the Senkaku Islands and in Japan’s exclusive economic zone south of Yonaguni.

“There’s a good chance that China will use force to make a move on the Senkakus in the future if Japan lets its guard down,” former Self-Defense Fleet Commander in Chief Yoji Koda said. “Japan needs to be fully prepared.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun